The Giants know what most people think of them.
“A lot of people are already writing us off,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said as he reported to training camp on Wednesday with the rest of the team.
It’s true. External expectations for the 2019 Giants are not very high. And why should they be? This is a team that relinquished several Pro Bowl players in the offseason, may or may not be in the midst of a quarterback transition at this exact moment, will be relying on a cadre of young, unproven players to stabilize the defense, and has had one winning season in the past six.
But it’s July, and optimism is ripe on the vine all around the NFL, there for the plucking for teams and players who would normally have no business even getting a sniff of it. Which is why the Giants – these Giants, the 2019 version – are able to say the kinds of things they are saying as they report for training camp.
Like when wide receiver Sterling Shepard was asked if the offense can be dynamic and he said: “Without a doubt.”
Or when safety and special teams captain Michael Thomas was asked if the defense will be better than last season’s and he said: “Oh, yes. Definitely.”
Or when Ogletree said he thinks the Giants defense has the talent to be not just a Top 10 unit in the NFL, but a Top 5.
“When it comes to game time, we have to go out there and do what we know how to do and win a lot of games this year,” he said. “Just shock a lot of people.”
It would be a shock to many. Not these Giants, though. They come into the season with what Shepard said is a chip on their shoulder after winning just five games last year.
“This is not how Giants football has been played in the past, and we want to get it back on the right track, so you kind of have to have a chip on your shoulder with that,” he said. “With the way the last season went, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, so yes, we do.”
While the Giants are strong believers in themselves, they are well aware of the outside view. And they know that if they do not get off to a strong start in this season, the narrative will go right back to what it has been for most of the past six seasons.
“Even though we don’t pay attention to the media, you don’t want to hear or read about things, or even see things said about you that might not even be true, and also that don’t sound good,” Thomas said.
The only real way to avoid that is to win.
“We’ll go out there and get the job done,” he said. “We want to go out there and not necessarily prove everyone wrong, but prove ourselves right.”